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Asian weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina, and their repelling of pollinators




The Asian weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, is known to have outstanding predatory power. This ant can protect the host plants from attacks of phytophagous insects and therefore has been used for biological control in the tropics. We present evidence for a possible negative effect of Oecophylla on the performance of host plants. Our observation in a fruit orchard of rambutan in Sumatra suggested that the presence of Oecohylla nests on the trees statistically significantly lowered the flower-visiting rate of flying insects, involving the major pollinator Trigona minangkabau. The visiting rate of Oecophylla workers to each flower shoot of rambutan significantly negatively correlated with the visiting rate of flying insects. Empirical evidence of such an inhibitory effect on flower-visiting of pollinators cased by aggressive ants has been scarce so far.